FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN (1943)
Article #48 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 5-3-2001
Posting date: 9-16-2001
Graverobbers accidentally revive Larry Talbot, who begins his nightly rampages during the full moon again. To find a cure, he seeks out Maleva, the old gypsy woman whose son turned him into a werewolf, and they begin searching for Dr. Frankenstein, who they believe may have the power to cure Larry of his curse.
This is both the immediate sequel to THE WOLF MAN and the fourth sequel to FRANKENSTEIN. It is also remarkable in several ways; it marks the first time Universal tried pairing monsters together, it attempts to take the supernatural aspects of the werewolf myth and find scientific solutions to it via the Frankenstein story, and it has Bela Lugosi playing the part of the monster for the first and only time. Bela does the best he can, but he is hoodwinked by both the editors, who removed all references to the monster being blind, and the fact that (to my mind) he is physically wrong for the part. The makeup was designed to work with Karloff’s face, and though Chaney and Glenn Strange had faces that more or less worked with that makeup scheme, Lugosi’s face simply wasn’t a good match. The movie also features Lon Chaney Jr. as (of course) Larry Talbot, Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye, and (my favorite performance) Maria Ouspenskaya reprising her gypsy woman role. It was also while I was watching this movie that I finally figured out how to identify Dwight Frye; though I could never remember what he looked like, I discovered how distinctive his voice was, and by using this method, I was able to spot him.
All in all, I like the movie (as I do all the Universal Frankenstein movies), but with some reservations. Outside of the problems with Lugosi, I’ve always felt the final battle between the wolfman and the monster was cut short, almost as if the makers of the movie couldn’t decide who would win. But I absolutely love the opening of this movie, one of the scariest scenes in any of the Universal horror films.
I have to agree re: Lugosi, but time has rendered this casting decision as such a novelty, that I enjoy him more with each viewing.